The UK government has announced £3.8 million for a Londonderry to London air route, following the decision by current operator Ryanair to stop serving the air link at the end of March.
bmi regional has been chosen as the preferred operator for the route between City of Derry Airport and London Stansted, following a competitive tender process by Derry City & Strabane District Council.
The route, which is a public service obligation, or PSO, has previously only been operated on a daily basis.
Tickets will go on sale from 9 March 2017 with flights commencing on 2 May 2017, and the government will fund the route over the 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial years.
The new service will include two return flights each day, except for Saturdays which will have one flight each way.
Jochen Schnadt, Chief Commercial Officer of bmi regional, commented:
“The North West region of Ireland is undergoing a sustained period of economic growth and has received significant investment in new jobs and growth projects over the past 12 months. It is important for businesses that the region is well connected to the UK capital and bmi regional is proud to be bringing its quality, premium product to this route.
“Whereas previously business travelers between Derry and London have had to stay overnight in the city, they will now be able to commute there and back in a day, saving both money and time, and hopefully resulting in continued economic growth for the Derry region.”
Aviation Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said:
“The UK government has worked closely with Derry City and Strabane District Council to protect this important route to City of Derry Airport. £3.8 million UK Government funding will allow 13 return flights to connect Londonderry to London every week. The new service will allow business passengers to get to central London and complete a full day’s work before returning home”.
This is the first ever government backing for a public service obligation (PSO) in Northern Ireland. The government maintains regional airport links through the Regional Air Connectivity Fund, which can be used to protect important regional air connections to London which may otherwise be lost.